Monday, November 30, 2009


1 Timothy 2:5 (New Living Translation)
For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.

Ever have the sneaking suspicion that something isn't quite right in your checking account?
Let's say your balance on line is significantly different than the one in your checkbook. When this happened to me, I chose to trust MY balance. I continued to purchase as if nothing was wrong.
Some call it denial. I call it another 'd' word.


After a week of living in my fantasy world, my bank sent me a statement. Now I had a choice. Ignore the statement and put it with other bills, or address the issue head on. I took a deep breath, sat down at the computer, and proceeded to open the dreaded statement.

Let the reconciling begin.

I found only one mistake. I had recorded a $150 debit as a $150 deposit. That's a problem. Not a $150 problem but a $300 problem!
Whew! So glad I balanced the account. At the rate I was spending, I would have dug a very deep financial hole.

I stopped and thought of the spiritual ramifications of this lesson: Avoiding the truth has consequences.
And I know I have done this with God.
He has whispered something is wrong and I have listened for the moment, then continued on as if I heard nothing. But eventually the Truth has been revealed - in a broken relationship, a deep wound, or a host of other painful experiences.
Then I faced a choice.
Would I open myself up to the opportunity to be reconciled to the Truth?
I hate to say it but at times in my life I have removed myself from Truth. I have avoided the statements that allow for reconciliation to take place. Rather, I have believed a lie: Reconciling is a bad thing and will limit your happiness.

The Truth is that Jesus Christ desires to live in harmony with me and transform me into His likeness. Only reconciliation can bring the freedom and joy I long for. I love knowing how I stand in relationship to Truth -- I am deeply loved and accepted. Therefore any errors that need correcting are for my good and His glory.
I have begun to love being reconciled. Both in my bank account, and with my God.


Friday, November 27, 2009

FUN with Turkey Leftovers

Happy Friday!
Hope you had a great day of thanksgiving yesterday - enjoying family and friends and the goodness of God.
Now, what to do with all that leftover turkey???

Here's an idea!


Turkey Tortilla Soup

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Divine Calling

“…you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15

We have many different roles in life, mine include: wife, friend, sister, daughter, member, customer, employee and parent. Some of these roles come easily - like daughter, didn’t need to do much for that one! Others take some time and effort - like employee and friend. The one role I choose and continue to develop is that of parent. Often parents are described as “caregivers” or “providers”, but really it is so much more than that.

What if we started to think of parenting as a divine calling? Our primary goals are to raise children that continue to grow in faith, encourage them to use their gifts to glorify God and to serve others with the same compassion that Christ teaches us in the Bible. We need our kids to understand how the world works - in the light of the way God instructs in the Bible. We can send them to their Sunday schools for an hour a week, maybe have them in a Christian school, but if what we do as parents is in conflict of what they are taught in church, it’s all for nothing. It’s a divine calling, that honestly, only falls on us.

Religion (Faith) never thoroughly penetrates life, until it becomes domestic." Horace Bushnel

I love this quote, it’s like anything in life, unless it is repeated, practiced, shown, displayed, acted out, talked about over and over and over… it just won’t stick.

We need to act it out in front them – prayer during difficult moments of the day or times of praise, and not just for food and as a quick blessing before bed. Acts of love towards your spouse and others - kids see this and mimic it to each other. If we show them that patience and kindness is the norm, and not the exception to every day interactions - we are shaping their hearts for the future. Helping them learn values and attitudes that can help them cope in life when they get older and get into difficult situations with peers, etc.

It’s a difficult role we are blessed with, but as I start to think of it as divine calling, it almost doesn’t seem as daunting. God’s grace makes it possible for spiritual formation and He has provided us with the Bible, a church family, and the Holy Spirit to help us nurture our children’s faith.

How about you? Do you find it difficult to make "religion" more domestic? It's easy to slip into the Sunday only mode of being a Chrisitan. What do you do as a family or even individually to keep every day focused on Christ?


Monday, November 23, 2009

Love. Thanks. Ask.

Our kids always fight about who gets to pray. Once we figure out who’s turn it is, we usually sit for a while listening to one of them go on and on with lots of “um’s” and peeks from behind their little hands. So, after more than a few nights of re-heating cold dinners, we gave our kids a little fun instruction to help them with this special time.

We have begun encouraging them to use a 3 sentence format:

1) LOVE: Tell God how much you love him.
2) THANKS: Thank Him for something.
3) ASK: Ask Him for something.

So Riley, our oldest, gave it a shot one night at dinner. In her sweet voice she prayed, “Dear Jesus, I just want you to know how much I love you. Thank you for my family. Please, please, please I’d really like it if you gave me more Polly Pockets.”

Priceless! Ryan and I barely contained our laughter to tell her what a great job she did. To this day, we remain hopeful that one of the kids might get around to praying for our food. But, in the meantime, we are going to enjoy these sweet prayers and often funny requests.

Now, my goal is get Ryan to use this format so I can stay awake until the end of our bedtime prayers.

Please share! We'd love to learn any tips or stories about your prayer time with your spouse or your kids?

~ sharina

Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Time for Friday FUN!

Happy Friday to you!

Today I want to do a little experiment with you - and your kids.
Quick, now, call them over to the computer and listen to the Chicken House Mix together.

A few times.

C'mon, it's only one minute and two seconds long - you can do this!

The experiment is this: I want to know if this crazy little song makes you all smile like it does my kids and I. And I want to know if it makes your kids do funny dances around the room.
Seriously. My thirteen-year-old daughter throws her arms around to the beat of the music and seems to have an involuntary urge to crow with the rooster.
It's hilarious.
~ Karen

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting ready for Thanksgiving.

Philippians 4:6-7 (New International Version)

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus"

I love getting ready for Thanksgiving. I think it's the perfect way to enter the Christmas season. I saw on Facebook recently one of those, "make this your status.." type suggestions of mentioning something you are thankful for with every status update. It seems after the first few days of the more "obvious" selections, the choices would get more personal and reflective.
I think it would be a great idea to start a November tradition of thankfulness around the dinner table. Maybe get a poster or journal and have each child say something they are thankful for each day, but make a rule of no repeats. My three year old Leah is usually thankful for the same thing - "all the people of the world." I love the way she says it, like all the people in the world are a gift to her. So sweet. I hope she keeps this same sentiment as she gets older - taking care of all people, being able to think beyond herself and even those in her family or at her school.

I'll be honest, it's easy for our family to be Thankful this year - steady jobs, healthy kids, a home, school, and a church. There have been Thanksgivings in our life where it was more difficult to be thankful - trying to get pregnant, watching my husband struggle with illness and weight loss, dealing with overtime and stress at work, my husband being without a job, and even just feeling far from God as we head into a season where His grace and love are most apparant.
Does this circumstance sound familiar?
We all have different seasons of life filled with highs and lows. And in the midst of them, the Word urges us to not "be anxious" (Yikes! Something I struggle with for sure!) but to give thanks. And we have a great resource for finding things to be thankful for - our kids. They may surprise you with some moments of gratitude or things to be thankful for that you never would have considered.

Ask your kids over the next few days to tell you why they're thankful, and let us know what they say. We all could use some insight from a childs heart once in a while.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Experience the Power!

The word experience can be defined and used in a variety of ways. For today's purpose, how about this way: Experience the mighty power of Christ.

I grew up in a culture where the charismatic, hand raising, holy rollers “experienced” Christ BUT the the rest of us Christians were much more reserved. We didn’t “feel” and “experience” Christ. Our righteousness was built like a ladder. The higher we climbed, the more righteous we became. The ladder was a set of rules and guidelines. If we followed the rungs of the ladder higher and higher, we would become more righteous in the eyes of God and man. But, don’t get over-excited when you climb that ladder! Don't let the experience take hold and emotions overflow...because emotions are not seen righteous.

Am I the only one that grew up this way or has felt this way at some point during their Christian experience?

Philippians 3: 9-11 “….. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!”

Paul wants to experience mighty power! Two things strike me. One, his righteousness is not about him. Two, he wants to feel, yes experience the very power - that earth changing totally amazing power - that God used to raise Jesus from the dead. What could take more power than raising the dead? Paul wants to know what it must have felt like to be dead and have God awaken his heart with a kiss from his healing lips. To open his eyes from an eternal death to find his face nestled in the very hands of God. Pulling his face closer to His with a smile and hearing Him speak in the softest and at the same time loudest voice, “Wake up and Live”.

I want to experience this! I want to feel what it is like to be awakened by God. I want to experience the emotion, feel the emotion and, maybe even, display the emotion. Yes, I do!

I want to feel my heart beating wildly in my chest. I want to know Christ for the first time, every day. I want what Paul wanted. I want to experience the Power!

~ Tim

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday FUN - Faith-filled Resources

Hooray! It's Friday!!!

Do you have any special plans for the weekend?

My family and I will be celebrating my niece's birthday at a pool party on Saturday. And Sunday we're going to learn more about the Old Testament at the Walk Thru the Bible seminar at Trinity. Can't wait - because I think having a clearer understanding of the Old Testament is going to be a great help to all of us during family devotions.
So thankful for this resource!

Hey, did you know Trinity offers lots of great resources for our families?
Why not take a minute to follow this link to the Family Life Resource page and see what's available to you. I noticed some great studies coming in January. (Hint: click on the 'Small Groups & Classes' link.)

Enjoy your Friday!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Loving God, Loving Your Baby

When I see a baby laugh, I think of pure joy. We’re drawn to babies laughing, which is evident in the proliferation of baby clips on youtube and America’s Funniest Home Videos. For a super fun pick-me-up, check out triplets laughing on youtube.

There is so much that is innocent, precious, sweet, and a true picture of who our amazing creator God made us to be that can be seen in the joy of a child. As pure and precious as babies are, they need to know their Heavenly Father, and we begin sharing God’s love with them, long before they’re walking and talking. When we talk about sharing Jesus with our children, we usually think of school-aged children, but building faith into their lives begins long before that.
We’re clearly told “God is love...” If God is love, then infants will connect the love they experience from us with Him. So... how you hold your baby, the tone of voice you use when you talk to your child, the songs you sing, and how often you tell your baby that Jesus loves him is even now planting the seeds of love and truth in his heart and life.

A baby’s first impressions of Jesus is up to you. Your hugs, smiles, laughter, and a loving tone of voice are God’s love directly to her. As your child grows, and learns more about God, he will be more open to trusting Him and to loving others. Your child begins her spiritual journey long before she starts walking.

“Jesus loves me this, I know...” can be the song your child hears you sing, as you stroll him, lay her down for a nap, travel in the car, and as you go throughout your day together. It can be the tenor of your lives.
As for me, when I see parents showing love to a child through their words and their deeds, I think of a God who loves me, His child, and I’m grateful for the reminder. And, at the same time, I’m grateful for loving parents who are living their faith and making a difference for all of us.

- Belinda Lund Bjarki, Trinity's Children's Ministry Director

Monday, November 9, 2009

Everyday Moments

Ever feel overwhelmed with the task of raising your child spiritually? Does it have to be that complicated? When I was a child, I vividly remember times where my parents used everyday moments to show me Jesus.

At the age of 4, I stole quarters from my dad’s nightstand. He used that opportunity to share with me about Judas and how he betrayed Jesus because of his love for money. I learned how Jesus died on the cross for my sins and how much He loved me. That night, I invited Christ into my heart and it’s a night I’ll never forget.
Another time, my brother and I were goofing off. He pushed me and my face slammed into the pavement resulting in my teeth penetrating through my bottom lip. Blood gushed everywhere as my parents rushed me to the hospital. My dad and brother sat in the waiting room in agony as they listened to my screams as the doctors stitched my lip. My dad used that moment to share with my brother about the pain Jesus suffered on the cross for our sins.
The memories of my mother passing on her faith are less intentional. I recall her banging her head on the kitchen cabinet and saying, “Lord, these kids are driving me nuts. Please help me!”

A friend recently shared that he will use his failures to teach life lessons. At a store one day, he received terrible customer service and got angry at the salesperson. While steaming and sitting in the car, he told his kids that Jesus would not want him to treat people like that and we should always treat others in a way that we would want to be treated. He went back into the store and apologized to the salesperson. What a lesson!

There are many ways to pass on our faith to our kids. It doesn’t have to be just at bedtime or praying at dinner. There are hundreds of opportunities we have in our daily routine. How are you using everyday situations to share Christ with your kids? Let’s hear them!

~ Sharina

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fun for Families coming December 6th

The Wharton Center is putting on a show for kids again this winter - Click Clack Moo. I went with my son's school last year and just loved it. This is a great thing to do as a family, or for some one-on-one time with one of your kids. More details from the site:
All day long Farmer Brown hears “click clack moo, clickety clackety moo...” The cows are typing and protesting their working conditions! Will Farmer Brown give in to the animals’ demands, in this hilariously “moo-ving” new musical about compromise? Based on the award-winning book by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin, Click Clack Moo is performed by Theatreworks USA, the same artistic team who brought you If You Give A Pig A Pancake. Book by Billy Aronson; lyrics by Kevin Del Aquila; music by Brad Alexander.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gifts for Life

Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9

Dad, Mom, do you sometimes feel like you do nothing but instruct and teach your children? Do you feel as though you're just no fun, because all you do is say, "Do this," and, "Don’t do that"? Have you been concerned that your children see you as nothing more than a litany of lessons?

Or maybe you're totally cool with the way you teach your children and I'm the only one who struggles???

I love the wisdom of Solomon in the Proverbs, and the encouragement he gives me in raising children. What if we took to heart what Solomon said in Proverbs 1:8-9? (Go ahead and read the above verse again!) What if we thought of the words we speak to our children - the instruction we give them – as gifts for life?

I'm picturing my children opening a gift I've just given them. Imagining the excitement on their faces as they tear open the paper to see what's inside. And, the sheer joy coming from them as they lift the present from the box to examine it more closely.

Yes, that is how I want them to receive my teaching. I am not speaking to burden them with useless information. My role as their mother is to prepare them for adulthood and I want every word I say to them to be like a gift – given and received with the understanding that it will benefit the one who hears it and believes.

Oh! I think I may have just discovered our next family memory verse. How about you?
~ Karen

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hot Bath

But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God's gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives. And there's more life to come—an eternity of life! You can count on this.

Titus 3:4-8 The Message

For twelve years, since the building of our home, I have existed without HOT water—in the bath. Why is this important??? Some could care less whether or not they ever take a bath. I, on the other hand, LOVE baths. It allows me a place in my home where no one can follow me. I can take a book and escape. And that’s what I have always done in each of the houses we have lived in - until this one...the new house. Go figure.

From the moment I discovered this problem, I started asking questions—questions to the builder, questions to the plumbers, questions basically to whoever would listen. Someone must have an answer! But, no one did. Maybe this was a plot against me! Or, maybe God just didn’t want me to take baths. In my madness, these seemed to be viable options.

Finally after 11 years, I became completely desperate. I began transporting hot water from bathroom sink to the bath tub. Ten pitchers later - poof! - I'd have a hot bath. On some level, though, this still did not seem right—shouldn’t I be able to turn on the water and it get hot! Other people I know have hot water every time they get in the tub—why was I not one!

After many, many years, I had resigned myself to this sort of existence. It had become “do-able”. Until one day this fall when my mom and dad came to visit. Before long we were in a discussion about the water upstairs.

All of a sudden my father says, "I’ll take a look at it. I think I know what is wrong with it." Okay, whatever, I thought. In a few moments, he came back down stairs and behold there was HOT water. “What was it?” I desired to know that which had plagued me for years.

“A scald protector—it just needed to be removed.”

It took all of a minute—and now a whole new life of HOT BATHS. In fact, sometimes it is SCALDING—so hot I cannot get in right away or I have to add COLD water (go figure).

One day - as I was getting into my hot bath - God spoke to me in a story.

I had for many years lived a LUKE WARM existence spiritually—I wanted to live with a different temperature but it seemed to elude me. I had always been drawn to God and "knew" He loved me. Wasn’t that enough? Something inside of me cried out “NO—there is so so much more—how bad do you want it?” Looking back I see that I didn't want it bad enough. I was unwilling to search after it with everything in me.

Every so often, thanks to an author or sermon, I would sense my temperature change, but then it would go back to temped. On one level the bath accomplished the cleaning part of the process but with no enjoyment.

Then I became more desperate for more—I started asking more and more questions, started studying more and more books and the Bible. This is the phase of my bath life where I took others “vibrant hot filled lives “and poured them into my life. This is when I couldn’t get enough Beth Moore Studies, not enough books on God, self help books—you name it. Most of my vibrancy came from someone else’s experience. I seemed to “control” in one sense the temperature of my life by how much I poured in. If I stopped pouring in, I would almost immediately go back to my normal lukewarm life.

I think I had finally resigned myself to this being all there was for ME. Others could have the hotness but mine was going to have to be (mostly) artificially created.

Then my FATHER came. And, out of the blue, identified and removed the hindrance. The hindrance in my life centered on a desire to hold on to an offense, and not forgive, which lead to a root of bitterness.

Basically, I had allowed this sin pattern to become a way of life. It is amazing how easy it was for HIM to remove it—He knew right where it was hidden and how to correct the problem. What was also amazing is how quickly transformation of the heart can take place when the blockage is removed. The Holy Spirit was no longer constricted by my sin; it was free to FLOW.

I LOVE my bath time now. I have hot water that flows and flows and flows….thank you JESUS.

~ Wendy